Improving Employment Outcomes Through the Massachusetts Parole Board's Regional Reentry Center Initiative: Policy Analysis and Recommendations
50 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2006
Date Written: April 2005
The growth of the prison population in the United States over the past twenty-five years has yielded a number of complex policy debates, including the efficacy of lengthy sentences as a deterrent of crime, the social costs of imprisoning a growing proportion of American citizens, and the appropriate conditions of confinement. Receiving much less attention, however, is a question closely related to the growth of the prison population: what should the state do to aid the reentry of the increasing number of former prisoners released from confinement? Facing growing numbers of unsupervised releasees from state facilities, many state governments have enacted programs designed to provide voluntary sevices to ex-offenders upon their release.
In this policy context, we review the efficacy of the Massachusetts Regional Reentry Center Initiative (RRCI), a service program for unsupervised offenders released from state correctional facilities. The RRCI attempts to assist released prisoners with issues related to housing, substance abuse, mental and physical healthcare, employment, and the special needs of convicted sex offenders.
We conclude that the RRCI, while a critical first step towards addressing the needs of the Commonwealth's growing population of unsupervised releasees, has several shortcomings that limit its efficiacy. We find that
- The Department of Corrections' reentry activities are not integrated into the RRCI, resulting in redundancy and missed opporuntities to improve each agency's effectiveness;
- RRC staff lacks the skill set necessary to address RRCI clients' needs;
- The RRCI's strategy of referring clients to career centers for employment services does not appear to be effective; and
- There is a mismatch between the timing of RRCI intervention and when most clients are actually seeking such services.
We offer seven policy recommendations that will improve the efficacy of the RRCI and reduce the costs of managing the growing offender population's adjustment upon release.
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